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Commission critiques quick animal vote PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark Jaeger   
Wednesday, 16 November 2016 20:04

Town officials agree more notice should have been allowed to prepare for chicken complaint

Approving the minutes of a previous meeting is normally a routine process, but the agenda item touched off a philosophical discussion last week by members of the Town of Saukville Plan Commission.

At the center of the discussion was how a complaint was handled last month under the town’s newly enacted animal ordinance.

After receiving a petition from Arrowhead Road resident Gary Laubenstein in September about poultry being raised on the neighboring property owned by Bryan and Erin Stewart, commission member Todd Korb was enlisted to make an on-site inspection.

When Korb reported back to the commission at its Oct. 11 meeting that he found the Stewarts had 47 chickens, including eight roosters, three chicken coops and three geese on their property, a decision was made to have an impromptu hearing on the matter that evening.

That quick resolution of the complaint was backed by the Stewarts, but objected to by Laubenstein.

Ultimately, the commission ruled that the couple were operating within the limits of the town’s animal ordinance, but ordered that the chicken coops be relocated to meet setback requirements. The Stewarts were given until June 1, 2017, to complete the moves.

After making some minor changes to the minutes documenting that process, Supr. Mike Denzien — who also served on the commission and authored the animal ordinance — said he was troubled by the way the first animal complaint was rushed through.

Denzien asked that a more thorough discussion of the matter be held as part of the “other general business” item on the commission agenda.

When the meeting got to that point, he said he was not dissatisfied with how the animal complaint was resolved, but said the hurried action was not what he envisioned with the ordinance.

“After the complaint was investigated, I thought we would have been holding the hearing tonight (one month after the presentation of the initial finding of facts),” Denzien said.

He said the ordinance may need to be revamped to make it clear that is the anticipated timetable.

“I think the process would have gone a little smoother if we had waited one month for the hearing,” Denzien said.

“Of course, I realize we might not have another complaint for a decade.”

Commission member Kevin Kimmes said the animal ordinance might also benefit from setting hard limits on “loud birds,” such as rooster, peacocks and geese.

That suggestion drew immediate resistance from fellow commission member Tom Ravn, who said the town shouldn’t get caught in the middle of a dispute over what is a loud or quiet bird.

“It gets to a point of being over-regulated. You are talking living out in the country,” Ravn said.

Town Chairman Don Hamm said he had no problem with how the first animal complaint was handled, but admitted he was dismayed that the town action will not resolve bad feelings between neighbors.

“We did what we could, but the situation probably isn’t going to get better,” Hamm said.

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